Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) wants the GOP House Majority to use Earth Day as a reason to change their current environmental policy.  In the 112th Congress, House Republicans have launched a relentless attack on our environment that seeks to rollback air and water protections and endanger public health.  Last year alone, House Republicans called for 191 votes to weaken environmental protections.

Earth Day is a series of environmental events aiming to eventually achieve a clean energy economy. Rep. Engel is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a long-time supporter of environmental protection and clean energy initiatives.

“Earth Day encourages and honors countless acts by dedicated individuals to improve the quality of our communities, parks, waterways, and private and public lands.  It also provides an opportunity for our country to focus on key challenges we will face in the future,” said Rep. Engel.

The GOP anti-environment votes in 2011 cut across a broad array of issues and included 27 votes to block action to address climate change, 77 votes to undermine Clean Air Act protections, 28 votes to undermine Clean Water Act protections, and 47 votes to weaken protection of public land and coastal waters.  The Environmental Protection Agency was the target of 114 of these votes; the Department of the Interior was the target of 35 of these votes; and the Department of Energy was the target of 31 of these votes.

Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, and prompted the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water Acts.  Senator Nelson’s accomplishment won him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“The 20 million people who took to the streets during the first Earth Day in 1970 represented a true cross-section of society, united despite their differences, to raise awareness for our planet’s well-being.  Protecting our environment has not always been a partisan issue, nor does it have to continue to be one.  My legislation to create an Open Fuel Standard to help us kick the habit of foreign oil, cut down on emissions and usher in an energy policy that relies on many different fuel options has bipartisan support.  Democrats and Republicans all need to breathe clean air, drink clean water and not pass our planet to our children with potentially catastrophic environmental issues,” said Rep. Engel.

Rep. Engel continues to work to support environmental reform and to further clean energy initiatives within Congress. “I urge my colleagues to stop trying to roll back environmental laws and endanger the public health.  The EPA was created by a Republican Administration, which proves that environmental issues have not traditionally been as partisan as they are today.  Together we can develop a national policy to protect our environment, while still presenting an atmosphere conducive to job creation.”

Earth Day is on Sunday, April 22, 2012.